A Letter from A Young Collector

Seth Johannsen

Seth Johannsen

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Spencer, Iowa

(Seth Johannsen, of Spencer, Iowa, is a 13-year-old collector who has been at it since age 9. We asked for a letter from him when his mother, Mrs. K.M. Johannsen, wrote to tell us how he enjoys Gas Engine Magazine. Here is the reply, with pictures. We are glad to encourage all young collectors. -Editor Gerry Lestz)

Dear Mr. Lestz:

I am finally able to send you the pictures and the information you asked for. It has been cold with rain and snow here in northern Iowa and we did get some snapshots during one brief afternoon of sunshine.

My mother will type this for me at 13, I haven't learned that yet.

The first thing that I acquired for my collection is the black enameled Ritter Dental aircompressor. I think it has a 1/2 HP elec motor and the Pat. date on it is 1916-1917. It has an endless flat drive belt.

I was nine years old and not very good at making deals. I offered Mr. Smith, at Smith's Jewelers in the Shopping Center, $20.00 for it. After I made the offer I called my mother to ask if I could buy it. As it turned out, Mr. Smith told my parents that he'd take $5.00 for it since he knew it would be appreciated. He had bought it used, and told me that he used it to clean jewelry. That was in January of 1970.

I have it all polished and have repaired some holes in the pressure tank and the automatic shut-off. I don't work it very hard, the only big job it had lately was to inflate 1000 red ballons for the Iowa Heart Association at the Clay County Fair.

The first gas engine I bought was the one cyl. Maytag, 1/4 HP, that you see in front of the McCormick Deering. Our Deputy Sheriff, Mr. Phil Nelson, (Also a collector) was a big help to me there. He was looking for something I could afford and I was still on a $5.00 limit. He got it at an auction and helped me restore it. I've learned a lot from him.

The McCormick Deering took a winter to buy. I had been in Ricketts, Iowa to look at some engines that Darryl Miller had for sale after the Ricketts Steam and Antique Show. Most of what I could afford was sold but I did offer him $10.00 for a completely restored two cyl. Maytag. He wanted $15.00 but said he would 'split the difference.' We stood there in a pouring rain, and I didn't even know what 'split the difference' meant. But I do know now, it was a buy at $12.50.

Right next to it sat the McCormick Deering. He wanted $65.00 for it. My mother, who has to do my driving for me, really thought that it was 'cute'. When we returned home she told my father about the engine, but since she doesn't known one from the next, she couldn't tell him what it was.

I really prayed for that one, it is red on a white and blue carriage. It stuck in my mother's mind too and in the Spring, my Dad started to track it down. The farm where I had seen it was vacant. He finally found the Millers in another town; how I wish I could have skipped school and been along on the hunt. The Millers were not home, but Dad came back with their phone number. I ran up our phone bill and could hardly believe it was finally mine - he still had it and sold it to me for $65.00. My brother Jess rented a trailer and we went after it the next day.

The Owner's Manual, still in very good condition, which came with it describes it as a 3 to 5 H.P. Hopper Cooled, Model 'LB' McCormick Deering. It was originally purchased from Oleson Implement Company in Newell, Iowa.

A John Deere

The air compressor, Seth and Ming - a Pekenese

The McCormick-Deering and Maytag.

A John Deere ,air compressor, Seth and Ming - a Pekenese, The McCormick-Deering and Maytag - all three of the engines.

The John Deere was my Christmas present. It is a 1-1/2 H.P. type E. 600 RPM. I had been to a sale in Newell, Iowa and I couldn't afford the menu. I went home hungry, but had a couple of leads in my pocket. My father checked out one of them in Guthrie Center, but it wasn't too great. While I was in school, my mother took a returned call from Charter Oak and she decided to buy the John Deere described, sight unseen. The man she was talking to had told her it was a carriage and for my mother, the wheels are all that count. She was lucky. Again, while I was in school, (darn) my oldest brother, Mark, and my mother made the trip after the John Deere. They hid it in Mr. Verle Lair's garage until Christmas Eve. The neighbors all kept that secret; I was really surprised. The only thing I need for it is a water hopper plug. Maybe I can get some help on that. The paint on it is fairly good, you can read John Deere on the hopper.

I would really like to take something up to Butterfield to show. I had a look at their celebration last year and it was really nice. They have a lot of shade.

I hope that you find something in this letter that you can use, sort out what you like and I'll be watching for the Gas Engine Magazine in my mailbox. It really is a GEM.